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01/27/10 - 09:35 PM
A big business expected to bring more than 100 jobs will not be coming to Panama City. Leaders found out Tuesday afternoon that Coast Water Efficient Technology LLC, (Coast WET) a toilet supply company, turned down an agreement to build near Hwy 77 and Hwy 231.
“I was disappointed,” said Panama City Mayor Scott Clemons, “When we converted to the commission taking over we allowed things to get delayed, it was a complex transaction it took too long and so it was a financial burden to Mr. Easter and Coast WET.”
Panama City, the Community Redevelopment Agency, and Economic Development Alliance have spent months of effort and prepared more than $1 million in incentives to recruit the company. But, a lengthy due diligence in a lease contract was the last straw for company president Robert Easter, who says the long process was costing him money.
“We had a very tight time-table to begin with we were very clear on that,” he said, “It looked like it would be no problem had the CRA been able to facilitate the transaction.”
In an interview with News13 and a letter to Clemons, Easter cites the city’s taking over the Community Redevelopment Area, and internal processes as the major factors in costing valuable time. With an immediate need to expand, Easter says he could not wait any longer. The letter also made reference to negative articles published in the local newspaper. To read the full letter, click here.
With a temporary office already in place in a Panama City Beach industrial park, Easter says he’s ready to triple his 20 employees in the next 6 months and expand on that current site.
“The space is available. That’s ninety percent of the problem right there,” he said.
Clemons says because they already have a contract and tax package developed for the land, they will try to seek another business.
“I think we probably made some mistakes and we need to be accountable for that,” he said, “but I want people to know that we’ve learned from those mistakes, we’ve put this transaction together and we will know in the future and be prepared when we have an industry that’s ready to come here.”
“We’re going to learn from it,” said Easter, “and Panama City I think has got a huge bright future.”
So far, Panama City Beach has not offered tax incentives or additional funding to the company.
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